Sunday, January 22, 2012

San Remo Satisfies

Authentic Italian fare and more awaits all who come through the doors of San Remo, a bistro-style establishment situated in the busy Millpond Village shopping center.

The restaurant’s roots trace to John Pittari Sr., who brought his family to the United States from Naples, Italy, in the 1970s. Pitarri opened several restaurants in Brooklyn, New York, before ultimately moving to North Carolina and starting a pizzeria in Raleigh.

These days, Johnny Pitarri Jr. oversees operations at San Remo, which has gained a loyal following for its rewarding pizza, pasta and other Italian specialties like cheese tortellini soup (pictured below).

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

Standout menu items at dinner include the bacon-wrapped scallops appetizer; sundried tomato-infused penne San Remo; and the 12-ounce New York Strip Due Mondi with sliced shrimp, roasted pepper and chipotle pepper madera wine glaze. Be sure to save room for dessert, as the fresh-baked Crème Brûlée ranks among the best you’ll taste.

The restaurant features a relaxed, inviting vibe (somewhat romantic at night) with dark-topped tables and an easily accessible bar. An enticing all-you-can-eat lunch buffet is available Sunday through Friday.

San Remo is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Reservations are recommended on weekend nights.

San Remo Italian Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hooked by Captain Stanley's

A culinary mainstay for more than 30 years, Captain Stanley’s near Garner serves Calabash-style seafood in a no-frills environment for a sensible price. After all, where else can you go and get your fill of fried flounder, shrimp or trout for less than $10? And that includes two sides and bottomless hushpuppies.

Granted, the seafood may not be as fresh as, say, Skipper's Fish Fry in Apex, but it’s still well-prepared and full of flavor. For my money, any of the small-portioned platters provide plenty of food. Speaking of the provisions, you can count on your plate arriving tableside within five minutes of ordering.

The golden hushpuppies are served warm with Country Crock spread, and they are as good as you’ll find most anywhere else. Side items like Brunswick stew and coleslaw are also worthwhile. If you’re not in the mood for a baked potato, go with potato salad, although be prepared for it to be served cold rather than warm.

When it comes to décor, the stereotypical nautical theme abounds, replete with life preservers, plastic blue marlins and fishing nets. Friendly, efficient servers wear black tee shirts and black pants, though during a recent visit my glass of sweet tea remained empty too long at one point.

Lunchtime appears to be the best deal of the day, as a $5 special hooks plenty of patrons. For what it’s worth, however, the nighttime crowd seems more laid back and congenial. At least two total strangers smiled and waved as they passed by my table. That just doesn’t happen most places. Consider the whole experience smooth sailing without ever leaving the Triangle.  

Captain Stanley's Calabash Seafood on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sunflowers Always in Bloom

Since opening its doors back in 1983, Sunflowers Café has consistently served up crowd-pleasing gourmet sandwiches, soups and salads.

The eatery was the first restaurant to open in Raleigh’s Glenwood South district, where it thrived for more than 20 years. After losing the lease about six years ago, proprietor Deborah Ferebee moved to the current location near Seaboard Station. She’s never looked back since.

The café features an open kitchen, and the warm, comfortable dining room contains tables and chairs situated among abundant live plants and flowers. A striking outdoor cypress arbor was constructed by Clay Ferebee, Deborah’s husband.

Among the three to four daily soups offered at the café include roasted red bell pepper with carrots and orzo; corn chowder; and house-favorite creamy butternut squash (pictured below). 

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee 

The butternut squash is the eatery’s mainstay winter soup.Suffused with thyme, ginger and a splash of tamarind, the soup is often made with chicken stock. Squash is often sourced  from the State Farmer’s Market.

Soups at lunchtime cost $2.95 and are subject to change throughout the week. It’s best to call to find out what’s being served on any given day.

Also popular with patrons are distinctive sandwiches like grape- and pecan-laden chicken salad; the Maui Wowee with ham, thinly sliced pineapple, romaine and provolone and Swiss cheeses; and the grilled veggie club featuring avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, house mustard, lemon-tahini dressing and cheddar on sunflower bread,

Sunflowers is open Monday through Saturday for counter-service lunch. The restaurant also offers full-service dinner Wednesday through Saturday from 5-9 p.m. and features house-ground Angus burgers along with entrees like wild-caught salmon and grilled pork tenderloin. 

 Sunflowers Sandwich Shop on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Village Worth Inhabiting at Mealtime

Adam Capani, general manager and head chef of popular lunch haunt Village Deli & Grill in Morrisville, possesses a passion for scratch-made food. Whether he’s crafting specialty sandwiches or artisan soups, the native of upstate New York takes pride in everything he churns out in the kitchen.

That includes the exceptional crab bisque, which is his own personal recipe. When it comes to preparing the bisque, Capani roasts tomatoes, onions and garlic along with salt and pepper for about 30 minutes in the oven. He then purees the base and adds lump crab meat along with heavy cream and some spices. The soup is then served in a biodegradable “ecotainer” or, on some occasions, a bread bowl. All soups are available by cup ($3.50) or bowl ($5.50). Additional featured selections range from broccoli and cheese to roasted tomato with blue cheese crumbles. 

 crab bisque photo courtesy of Jonathan Fredin/S&A Cherokee

If you're in the mood for a sandwich, you can't go wrong with Village Deli's signature chicken salad. Or consider a grilled Cajun shrimp wrap featuring 10 large shrimp served with spring mix, Roma tomatoes, bacon, red onion and remoulade sauce. 

The restaurant’s décor features an attractive white-pine trellis filled with hanging plants. Tables are covered in checkered vinyl, and a vibrant mural on the back wall spans from floor to ceiling. 

Village Deli & Grill is open Monday through Saturday for breakfast and lunch.

Village Deli on Urbanspoon